The Asian Tiger Prawn is a very invasive species that can grow to almost a foot long. This species is known for threatening native wild stocks and has been found on the Texas coast. They are native to the western Pacific, but have been spreading along the Gulf Coast since at least 2006. This year their numbers have increased and it is cause for some concern.
Shrimpers pulled the first one from Texas waters in June. Three were harvested in Aransas Bay, one from Sabine Lake at the Louisiana Border, and one from about 70 miles (110 kilometers) from Freeport in open waters. In order to figure out the origin of the specimens, marine biologists will need to do genetic studies on at least 60 of them.
The tiger prawns have healthy appetites and carry several diseases and this combo makes them very undesirable. They eat the native shrimp, crabs, and oysters, just taking over. It is thought that the prawns were released accidentally from an aquaculture farm in South Carolina in 1988, but that isn’t confirmed. Some may come from Caribbean farms that were flooded during hurricanes.
This is the sort of thing that could prove disastrous, not just for shrimpers, but for the native wildlife as well. However, one bit of good news is that, so far, scientists have found no juvenile tiger prawns in Texas waters.